ATA shrugs off latest attempt to turn back HOS clock

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations says the latest attempt by "anti-truck groups and their allies" to block the newest version of the U.S. hours-of-service rules will be dismissed by regulators.

Public Citizen and Co.’s petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to reconsider the HOS rules is "ill-advised and raises no new substantive safety issues," says ATA in a press release.

The trucking group rightly points out that the rules have "been proven safe in both scientific research and in actual on-road operations over the last four years where crash data shows the trucking industry is safer than it has ever been."

Contrary to claims from Public Citizen and allied groups, the rules — which have been in place since January 2004 — have never been overturned in court on "substantive grounds related to their safety impact." Prior court rulings that have forced FMCSA to rewrite or amend the rules, have been based on legalese and other procedural problems, such as "failing to consider the rule’s impact on the health of drivers," or not explaining well enough the justification for adopting the 11-hour drive time and 34-hour restart provisions.

While the safety groups insist the new rules increase fatigue and turn trucks into "rolling sweatshops," ATA points out they instead shorten drivers’ work day by an hour or more and increase the drivers’ required daily rest period by 2 hours, or 25 percent, compared to the old rules.

The new system is designed to complement the human body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm, and while these rules have been in effect, large truck crash rates, injury rates and death rates have fallen to all-time lows.

At the same time, ATA continues to urge regulators to approve new regulations that will require the use of Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) for motor carriers with a history of failing to comply with HOS rules.

The FMCSA, however, is leaning towards an EOBR mandate for all trucks, regardless of their safety record.

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